Times Shifting

Creative Writing in Extraordinary Times

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

We live in a time of great change. No airplanes in the sky, nearly empty streets, faces behind windows looking out. Every day extraordinary things are happening. History is being created in front of our eyes and in our ears. Doors have closed on many of the things we were used to, and new doors are opening. We find ourselves held in the time between the time before and the time to come.

Soon things will go back to ‘normal’ – or will they? What will we remember about these times? What will we want to keep? What will we wish to/choose to forget?

The Indian writer and social activist Arundhati Roy describes what is happening to the world as a rupture. She asks if it might be possible to …walk through it lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. This is a time of great richness for writers who source their inspirations from the world around them.

The world dominated by Covid19 is another unexpected world nestling within our own world. It even has its own sense of time and space, dominated by slowness and emptiness.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

People are doing things very differently every day and coming to different ideas about their world, their people and themselves.

Although lockdown means that we are limited in the places we can go and the people we can talk with in real life, we are not isolated. We connect with other people in virtual space. In our shared imagination we can have access to the farthest corners of the web-connected world. The world becomes a place of collective dreaming.

Sharing visions

Times Shifting is a project that brings together a group of young writers living in very different places to explore the living history of our time. By observing, recording, noting, collecting, thinking and writing about what is currently happening in their changed and changing individual worlds, and then by sharing the results of all of this, we hope to create a collective archive of this time. In future years it can be a resource to help understand what has happened, from the point of view of young citizens coming to terms with a changed world.

Truth is stranger than fiction they say! Just look around the world and see how true this really is…..

Times Shifting begins as a unique, shared, and mentored archive of events happening now across the world. A month-long collective picture of the world affected by Covid-19 will be compiled by a team of writers, historians and thinkers between the ages of 15 and 24. This archive of living history will then become a source for dreaming about how the world of today might be seen in the future. We honour the memory of the founding genius of Historical Fiction, Sir Walter Scott, in his desire to look into the events of history to draw out the learning for future years.

Moray Laing/@desertedlondon

Using the collective archive, Times Shifting will explore the writing of an imagined history of this time when all our lives have suddenly changed. We enter new worlds…

To let our minds go questioning afar,

Not to fear what we don’t understand,

And make our own creations.

Judith Steel

Times Shifting is a project of the Imagining History Programme UK, under the umbrella of The Young Walter Scott Prize. It has been created and will be guided by Alan Caig Wilson, (Director of YWSP/IHUK), Elizabeth Ferretti, (writer, journalist and Development Associate of YWSP/IHUK) and Dr Dina Gusejnova, (Assistant Professor of International History at the London School of Economics).

When do we hold our workshops

Times Shifting I will begin on 1 May and run until I June. The time commitment is one weekly zoom session.

Times Shifting 2 is in planning and will begin mid-June, running till mid-July. The time commitment is the same as for TS1.

If you live in the East of England – Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk – we will be running a Times Shifting workshop between July 3 and July 6. The time commitment for this is one hour per day. Check out the YNAF website http://youngnorfolkarts.org.uk/ for full details.

What to do next

If you are a current participant, have the password ready and head to the Recording Times Shifting page. Any problems, email us – TimesShifting@outlook.com

If you would like to be part of the next Times Shifting, email TimesShifting@outlook.com telling us a little about yourself and why you would like to join this unique project.

Important things

  • If you are under 18, we will also need to make a connection with an adult supporter. 
  • This project is set up and run as a closed, mentored group.
  • We do not ask you to share any sensitive personal details.
  • We will not publish anything without your agreement, or the agreement of an adult supporter if you are under 18. Your name will not be attached to any published material – unless you give your written permission.
  • You can pull out at any time and we will be very grateful for the input you will have made.

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